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Why Quality Beats Quantity Every Time In The Gym

Written by: Nick Jack
Category: 2014
on 07 May 2014
Hits: 9224

Basically, if you’re not doing an exercise with the proper form, you’re not doing the exercise at all. You might as well sit on the couch. Proper form, posture and exercise technique is critical for achieving great results in any sport and even more so in the gym. Combined with the correct training methods and equipment you give your body every chance of moving free of pain and limitation to become the best you can be. Unfortunately, many people see this step as an inconvenience and skip past it in their pursuit of fitness and strength gains which inevitably leads to compensation and pain. This article we explain why you should never skip learning good form. Make sure you check out the video below to see a detailed explanation of this article.

Never Sacrifice Exercise Technique

This is a component of what Paul Chek refers to as the Form Principle which takes into consideration that the nervous system always remembers the last traumatic incident it’s been through. So don’t put it through an improper traumatic incident. Your last set of an exercise should always be perfect. However, most people in the gym today follow body builder programs and take exercises to a failing point or complete exhaustion. If your technique is 100% perfectly sound then this is fine to do and you will reap enormous rewards. If however you have poor technique, poor posture, some muscle length tension problems or carrying an injury this type of training will set you up for more pain and permanent dysfunction!

The purpose of conditioning and going into a gym is to teach your body how to become smarter and rise to a new level of movement incorporating various abilities such as strength, balance, co-ordination and agility. A bit like an upgrade on your computer. You are in a controlled environment so that under the guidance of a coach you can master all of the different types of exercises that are necessary for you, individually, first and then necessary for hobbies, sports second.

Your ultimate goal should be to master every form of movement enough times that it becomes automatic!

Once you learn to squat properly in a gym you don’t worry about your technique when you’re playing a sport, moving something at work or even just lifting something in the garden.

If you’ve done it right in the gym, it’s already built into the system.

This is what is referred to as a Motor Engram. The more frequently you perform an action the quicker you react to the command. This is because patterns of movement that are performed frequently are stored at the spinal cord level, and not the brain. And it only takes about 300-500 to learn an engram the first time, but over 5000 perfect reps to change a faulty one!

This is why it is so important for a new gym goer or someone recovering from injury to learn ONLY GOOD MOVEMENTS. This way it will teach the body the perfect automatic movement it needs to prevent further injury. We like to use an IPAD app to help track video motion of our clients and compare their technique to ours. Below is an example of clients performing various gym movements to give you an idea of why this article is so important for people to read. So let's take a look at some of the more difficult movements so you can have a clear understanding of what PERFECT EXERCISE TECHNIQUE looks like. We will also show you exercises performed with poor technique versus good technique

THE DEADLIFT

The deadilift is one of the exercises that requires a great understanding of your pelvic tilt and where you are in space.  This movement is also linked very closely to Lower Back Pain, in particular DISC BULGE pain as repetitive bending with poor technique will set you up for a lifetime of problems. If you are reading this and thinking this is me. And one thing that people who have low back pain from this movement is to avoid the exercise. But what I am going to tell you here is that you need to be doing it more than ever!

A good quote by Tony Robbins that I tell all of my clients is "If You Can't, You Must". Meaning that if the exercise is likely to hurt you, you must find a way to learn how to become the master of the movement so it can no longer hurt you. Unfortunately most Physios, Doctors etc tell people, "You should never do squats" or "Dont lift heavy things ever in the gym" which is absolute craziness. The use it or lose it theory will take place and you will become a weaker version of yourself. So instead of having a computer upgrade you are now getting a computer virus!

Anyway, let's take a look at the deadlift.

  1. Position the block or box height such that it allows you to keep a natural arch in your low back at the lowest point of the exercise.
  2. Standing with feet a comfortable width apart.
  3. Reach down keeping the natural arch in your low back. GraB the bar a little more than shoulder width apart. Pick the chest up, look forward inhale drawing the belly button inward.
  4. Bend forward slightly until the bar is at knee level; lift the torso to the top position, exhaling through pursed lips through the most difficult point of the movement. Imagine trying to push the ground away from you with your feet.
  5. At the top repeat the inhaling process before lowering to the ground. 

THE SQUAT

The squat is another one of the exercises we find people really struggle to get right. Especially the experienced gym junkie who has done a lot of classes. The instruction of "dont let your knees go over your toes" would have to be one of the worst cues ever used in a gym. And unfortunately it is still being used today. I train several personal trainers and they have never been shown the correct technique either and when I put them in the right place for the first time they feel a massive quad contraction. Most people are adopting a deadlift technique to their squats.

Tight calves and poor posture are the most significant factors in completing this poorly. So please whatever you do, make sure you watch the video below as it is hard to do justice to this exercise in text. If you cant squat correctly then you will have trouble jumping because they share the same relative timing of muscle contractions and stretching.

  1. Standing with a barbell resting on your upper back hands slightly wider than shoulders.
  2. Lift your chest up to activate your upper back muscles and drive the elbows forward. Take a comfortable stance wide enough that allows you squat down between your legs.
  3. Take a deep diaphragmatic breath then draw your belly button inward.
  4. Lower down into a squat as low as you can keep the natural arch in your low back.
  5. Exhale through pursed lips as you return to standing.

THE LUNGE

Lastly my favourite exercise, the lunge. I like this one the most because it allows you to move in a very athletic position and it mimics a lot of sports. You can do this movement forwards, backwards, sideways, jumping, static and in motion and works extremely well with arm actions of pulling, pushing and twisting. This stance activates many of the Slings in the body to train your CORE to a superior level. Look at our article on CORE STRENGTH TRAINING for exercise examples. Tight hip flexors and weak glutes usually contribute to poor form with this exercise so we find many people struggle to execute the technique correctly.

This exercise along with step ups, is also the hardest for people with Knee Pain but is also the one they must learn to do well in order to overcome it forever! In many cases we need to go back to Glute Strength Training basics to be able to integrate the system better. In our Knee Pain Toolkit we go through step by step how to do this. Watch the video below and see if you can execute exactly how we show you. 

  1. Standing upright in a split stance holding a barbell across your upper back. Lift your chest up to activate your upper back muscles and drive your elbows forward.
  2. Drawing your belly button inwards bend your knees to lower to the point where your back knee just touches the ground.
  3. Push with your legs to return to standing and repeat.
  4. Perform on the opposite side.

These would be 3 of our Key Primal Pattern Movements and the 3 that most people struggle with the most. To see more about ALL of the functional movement patterns make sure you download the FREE report below.

Summary

It is so much easier and faster to learn good techniques right at the beginning instead of trying to change them later on. If you are a beginner to exercise take your time to do things well, and earn the right to challenge your body. It may be slower than expected but the rewards are well worth it. It is so hard to develop strength and fitness to your full potential if you do not have great movement efficiency and technique to begin with. You may get away with it for a little while but eventually you will pay a big price for ignoring the quality of movement. I hope this article gives you some ideas of how to move better when you train.

     

 

About The Author

Nick Jack is owner of No Regrets Personal Training and has over 14 years’ experience as a qualified Personal Trainer, Level 2 Rehabilitation trainer, CHEK practitioner, and Level 2 Sports conditioning Coach. Based in Melbourne Australia he specializes in providing solutions to injury and health problems for people of all ages using the latest methods of assessing movement and corrective exercise.

References:

  • Movement - By Gray Cook
  • Corrective Exercise Solutions - by Evan Osar
  • Athletic Body Balance by Gray Cook
  • Diagnosis & Treatment Of Movement Impairment Syndromes - By Shirley Sahrman
  • Low Back Disorders - by Stuart McGill
  • Back Pain Mechanic - by Stuart McGill
  • Anatomy Trains - by Thomas Meyers
  • Motor Learning and Performance - By Richard A Schmidt and Timothy D Lee
  • Assessment & Treatment Of Muscle Imbalance - By Vladimir Janda
  • How To Eat, Move & Be Healthy by Paul Chek
  • Scientific Core Conditioning Correspondence Course - By Paul Chek
  • Advanced Program Design - By Paul Chek
  • Twist Conditioning Sports Strength - By Peter Twist
  • Twist Conditioning Sports Movement - By Peter Twist
  • Twist Conditioning Sports Balance - By Peter Twist